by Tom Utescher
If the Springside Chestnut Hill Academy basketball team that had beaten Abington Friends and Penn Charter had been in the Vare Field House last Thursday, the Blue Devils would’ve had a decent chance of defeating the Academy of Notre Dame. Instead, the SCH squad that turned up was the one that had lost to Agnes Irwin and Baldwin School, and as a result the Devils fell victim to the visiting Irish, 44-23.
In the first few weeks of the new year, the locals have appeared focused and intense in some contests, and out-of-sync and lackadaisical in others, and their performance has varied greatly.
The Devils were only down 11-7 at the end of the first period last Thursday, but over the next two quarters they only scored one field goal and five free throws. Disciplined and aggressive, the Irish pushed their lead up to 20 points early in the fourth quarter and cruised home from there. They took away a record of 7-8 overall and 3-2 in the Inter-Ac League, while SCH slid to 9-7, 1-6.
Notre Dame lost one projected starter at guard to an ACL tear before the season began, and another back court veteran had been sidelined by a concussion when the Irish arrived in Chestnut Hill. Blue Devils junior Lindsay Hiner opened the game’s scoring with a three-pointer from the right wing. The visitors soon countered with a lay-up by forward Rachel Ryan and a trey by guard Kristen Rogers, and they would lead the rest of the way.
The Irish kept stuffing the ball inside to Ryan, and she kept scoring. She eventually accounted for half of her team’s points at the intermission, when Notre Dame was up 22-8. There seemed to be an invisible lid on the Springside Chestnut Hill basket in the second quarter, and only a lone free throw by eighth-grader Delaney Sweitzer made it through.
Sweitzer’s well-known classmate, Mo’ne Davis, would collect five of her seven total points in the second half, but the not-so-good news was that no one else managed more than four points over the course of the third and fourth periods. Hiner hit two fourth-quarter field goals to share team-high honors with Davis.
The Blue Devils found themselves behind 32-14 at the three-quarter mark, and up until the final buzzer their shooters struggled from the open floor and from the free throw line. In a 12-9 fourth quarter, the Irish netted 10 points from 13 tosses at the charity stripe.
Following Davis and Hiner in SCH’s scoring column were junior Essence Walden with three points, Sweitzer and sophomore Destini Curry with two points each, and juniors Chloe Burns and Marissa Pownall with one point apiece. Notre Dame’s Ryan did not score in the second half, and eventually her colleague Casey Walsh would also accumulate 11 points for the victors. Alex Kane came away with nine points, and Rogers finished with seven.